PhyCor seeks online posters. PhyCor is asking Internet service providers to turn over the names of people who posted negative messages on a Yahoo stock-message board. The Nashville, Tenn.-based company is suing the anonymous posters, accusing them of spreading false and defamatory information.
Depositions begin May 9 in the lawsuit, filed Dec. 28, 1998, in Rutherford County (Tenn.) Circuit Court. The suit seeks unspecified damages against "John Does, 1-50."
PhyCor has received court approval to seek information from such national e-mail providers as America Online, Microsoft's MSN Hotmail and Physicians Online. The court also allowed PhyCor to seek the names of posters from local online services based in Arkansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas.
PhyCor says it may reveal the posters' names and drop the lawsuit, depending on the information it obtains.
Three states investigate Pediatrix. At least three states are investigating Pediatrix Medical Group, two of them focusing on possible violations in the company's billing practices.
Pediatrix announced April 5 that Arizona and Colorado were looking into its billing practices. Florida also is investigating the company.
Patti Urias, spokeswoman for the Arizona attorney general, says department policy precludes her from confirming or denying investigations. Ken Lane, spokesman for the Colorado attorney general, says his state is in the "preliminary stages" of a Medicaid billing investigation.
Meanwhile, Mark Schlein, director of Florida's Medicaid Fraud Unit, says his agency is in the early stages of investigating Pediatrix. He would not disclose the nature of the investigation.
Word of the probes sent Pediatrix shares down by nearly half on April 6 to $14.50 from $26 the previous day.
Hospitalist opposition. A coalition of 23 specialty organizations, led by the Washington-based American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, last month urged all managed-care organizations to oppose mandatory hospitalist programs.
Such programs require a patient's regular physician to transfer patient-care responsibilities to a hospital-based physician when the patient enters a hospital. Managed-care companies in Florida, Maryland, Missouri and Texas have established mandatory hospitalist programs, according to the ACP-ASIM.
"Mandatory hospitalist programs are bad public policy, just as they are bad for individual patients," the organizations wrote in a letter mailed last month to leading managed-care companies.
RICO charges. A former enrollee late last month slapped United HealthCare of Nebraska with a class-action racketeering lawsuit.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision in January allowed racketeering lawsuits to be brought against health plans that previously were protected under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (see story on page 18).
Plaintiff Lisa Rae Wineinger charged the insurer with inflating enrollees' copayments and misleading consumers about how copayment amounts are determined.
United HealthCare requires enrollees to make percentage copayments based on healthcare providers' charges. According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Neb., the copayments are based on an inflated amount because the HMO negotiates discounted rates with providers.
"We can't comment on the specifics of the case, but we don't feel it has any merit," says Phil Soucheray, a national spokesman for United HealthCare Corp. The plan's parent company was not named in the suit.